Careless smoking blamed for massive Allentown blaze

ALLENTOWN, Pa. (WPVI) -- Officials now say careless smoking is to blame for the fire in Allentown that damaged an entire city block.

The blaze started in an enclosed porch area of a row home in the 400 block of North Fulton Street last week.

Twenty-three people were displaced, but no one was seriously hurt.

"It was like a fire movie. Like 'Backdraft' or something like that. I never in my 30-year life seen a fire like that," Jason Melo told Action News last week.

He's thankful his home didn't receive extensive damage, but concerned about his neighbors who lost everything.

"They just stopped it, thank God. That is all you can do is thank God. There is nothing else you can do," Melo said.

Firefighters say it was a struggle battling the fire. They say it was spreading in the roof tops and the wind was fanning the flames.

"Wind drives fire, so it pushes it, and that helps it spread house to house. The wood is 100 years old and hasn't seen the light of day in 100 years, that is dry," said Battalion Chief Bill Held of the Allentown Fire Department. "Once the fire gets up in there, you're against it, and doing the best you can, at that point, to stop it."
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